McCain’s Last Battle

“I hate to lose.” With these words, perhaps sounding more like a kid during a soccer match than like the governor of Massachusetts who is running for the presidency of the Unites States of America, Mitt Romney said goodbye to his 2008 campaign. Is he retiring for good or just until 2012? Is McCain the winner of the Republican nomination or just the only one left to lose the elections of November 4th?

Even the Republicans believe that this time a Democrat will win. That is the argument Romney used to justify his departure: he assured that by staying, the odds for Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama would increase. Thus, to avoid this, he responsibly quit.

Sure there are many ways to quit. Romney almost forgot to mention McCain, anticipating what president Bush would do the day after: Request the vote for the Republican runner, but without specifying who.

Although Bush has been blamed for many lapses, this is not one of them. His aversion towards McCain is something very personal. John McCain attempted, and almost managed to become the 2000 candidate, and not George W. Bush.

Even now he continues to accuse Bush’s assistants of orchestrating a dark campaign of defamation and gossip against his name, which included the disclosure of his second wife’s dependency on painkillers and put in jeopardy his honor as a Vietnam war veteran and as a former prisoner-of-war.

A man of integrity

That is where it hurt and still does, because if there is something that John McCain has demonstrated throughout his history, it is that he is a man of integrity. Sometimes a concept of integrity a bit irrational: we must take in account the most rancid codes of honor to understand that an American soldier captive in Vietnam resigns to his freedom until all the prisoners-of-war that were caught before him are first set free. “First in, first out” is how it is called in the military in these cases. Five years and half not only of captivity, but also of torture, John McCain III, pilot of the U.S. Navy, served in the Vietnam prisons. He could have saved himself three years by taking advantage of the fact that John S. McCain I and John S. McCain II were U.S. Navy admirals. His father was in charge of all of the American forces in the Pacific, which is a reason why Vietnam originally wanted to release his son. This was an idea that he simply did not accept.

For many years his world was very simple. He never reached the ranks of his father and grandfather. He did not even get involved in politics as an ideologist. However, he did arrive with an eager and moderate spirit for the lacks and contradictions, including some shots of immaturity such as the one that led him to his first divorce after returning from Vietnam.


His second wife, seventeen years his junior and a teacher from Arizona, has been the starting point of his stability.

McCain, nowadays, is a man who learns from his mistakes as well as from others. He created “squadrons of truth” who would fight against ongoing misinformation, which is not an easy thing to thwart because it does not always make it to the newspapers or mass media. Born in Panama, he does not believe in turning his back to immigrants. A soldier at heart, he hates frivolous wars. And of course he is against simulated drowning during the interrogation of a prisoner.

The best and worst that this Republican politician has is that he does not hate to lose. Maybe because, at his 71 years, he has no other choice. Even if he were younger, possibly he would not mind at all either. Just like Vietnam: “First in, first out.”

A political party is not the same in the U.S. as it is in Spain. It is something with much more discipline and grandeur, specially the Republican “Grand Old Party” (GOP), where three big families, though not always in good terms, live together: the deep conservatives, the falcons of national security, and the ultraliberals.

John McCain, in some instances, has managed to put these three sectors out of their comfort zone. The ultraliberals, because he supports dealing with CO2 emissions to reduce global warming, voted in favor of eliminating “soft money” (non-transparent donations to electorates), and were against President Bush’s proposals of fiscal cuts for corporations in 2001 and 2003. The falcons, because, considering his dramatic military history, he was very critical towards the war in Iraq and condemned torture in Guantanamo, which is a topic where he accepts no excuses.

The most irritated at McCain are the deep conservatives, who do not even consider him as a superficial conservative. They do not condone his less than Spartan past, the fact that he has gone through a divorce, and that he has supported more lenient immigration policies, which leaves a more a expedited road to American citizenship for illegal aliens.

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